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Festival Of Birds in Detroit Lakes Minnesota

May 18-21, 2017

You don't want to waste any time in birders' paradise - Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. More than 275 species of birds are found in Becker County. Why? Because the Detroit Lakes area is in the heart of a transition zone of tall grass prairie, northern hardwood and conifer forest ecosystems. Serious birders flock here each spring for the annual Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds.

The 20th annual Festival of Birds is scheduled for May 18-21, 2017. Check back for news on our special keynote presenter!

The 19th annual Festival of Birds was May 19-22, 2016 in Detroit Lakes, MN at  headquarters Detroit Mountain Recreation Area. Craig Lund, Richville, MN won a free pair of Atlas Intrepid 7 x 36 binoculars from Eagle Optics with his early bird registration! A total of 174 species were recorded on field trips, with the Felton Prairie/Waubun Forest surpassing all tours with 110 species!

Keynote presenter on Saturday evening was Scott Weidensaul. Owls are fascinating to many of us and Scott enlightened us on his work with Project SNOWstorm (Snowy Owls) and other owls found in his just-released book Peterson Reference Guide to Owls of North America and the Caribbean. 

Festival favorite Carrol Henderson, MN DNR non-game wildlife, returned on Thursday evening at Maplelag Resort with some of those who played a role in restoring the Trumpeter Swan from near extirpation. Dr. Joshua Stafford covered a fascinating subject of migration captured on weather service radar, Friday evening at Five Lakes Resort Barn. Joe Hautman, five time winner of the Duck Stamp art contest, was joined by Tom Cooper, US FWS Regional Chief of Migratory Bird Program, to reveal the "Art and Conservation Behind the Federal Duck Stamp" Saturday in a free workshop. Judd Brink presented a free Saturday workshop on "Backyard Birding," Saturday afternoon. Scott Weidensaul signed his new book on Owls while Joe Hautman signed a free poster with his new Duck Stamp art. Doug Buri kicked off the festival with a Shorebird I.D. workshop.

The Festival of Birds offers morning field trips for birding, workshops for learning, exhibitors and socials for meeting and making friends. Field trips traveled to Felton Prairie (Chestnut-collared Longspur) and Waubun Forest (warblers), Prairie Wetlands and North Ottawa Impoundment (Heron Rookery in Fergus Falls), Hamden Slough (shorebirds and sparrows) and Tamarac National Wildlife Refuges (Trumpeter Swan/Golden-winged Warbler) Itasca State Park (Black-backed Woodpecker) and Kelly's Slough National Wildlife Refuge (new site!)

Festival attendees throughout the years have learned much about birds, wildlife and the environment through presenters such as John Fitzpatrick, John Marzluff, Joel Greenberg, Melissa Groo, Rosalind Renfrew, Sue Leaf, Drew Wheelan, Charlie Walcott, Richard Crossley, Scott Wiedensaul, David Sibley, Bill Thompson III, Laura Erickson, Don and Lillian Stokes, Kenn Kaufmann, Dr. Paul Johnsgard, Stan Tekiela, Dr. James Grier, Sharon Stiteler, Al Batt, Jeff Gordon, Joe Hautman and Jeb Barzen.

If you would like to receive future Festival of Birds programs and are not on the current mailing list, please contact us at or call toll free 800.542.3992. For updates, "like" us on facebook See the list of recorded species below. Enjoy our small town hospitality while in Detroit Lakes, including several lodging options.

In recent years, birders have checked these species off their list: Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Rough-legged Hawk, Chestnut-collared Longspur, LeConte's and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows, Rock Wren, Golden-winged and Northern Parula Warblers, Alder Flycatcher and Black-backed Woodpecker.

Any time of year, we welcome you to check out several sites along the Pine to Prairie International Birding Trail that are near Detroit Lakes. Download the Bird Checklist of 275 species along the trail below. For more birding opportunities in Minnesota, see the MOU website.

Everywhere you go in Detroit Lakes' bird paradise, you're guaranteed to see birds to check off your bird list. We welcome you to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Happy birding and see you at the 20th annual Festival of Birds May 18-21, 2017!